DEFINITIONPremature Menopause describes the condition where a woman's periods cease before the age of forty, due to ovarian failure.
DESCRIPTIONApproximately 1 in 100 women will experience the symptoms of Premature Menopause. A diagnosis of Premature Menopause requires a woman to be without a period for four months.
A positive test for Premature Menopause will reveal low levels of oestrogen and elevated levels of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). Two FSH tests are required for an accurate diagnosis, taken at least one month apart.
Premature Menopause can result from surgical removal of the ovaries or after radiotherapy for the treatment of cancer. Autoimmune disease or a family history of the condition may also be contributing factors. In some women Premature Menopause occurs spontaneously with no detectable cause.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMSThe physical symptoms of Premature Menopause are the same as those experienced by women during mid-life menopause. The symptoms include hot flushes, night sweats, palpitations, anxiety, loss of energy, changes in urinary function (including incontinence), painful intercourse and loss of libido. The emotional symptoms experienced by a woman going through Premature Menopause may include grief, anger, depression, sadness, mood changes, loss of self-esteem and a sense of helplessness.
A woman with Premature Menopause faces the emotional adjustment to infertility as well as coping with the physical effects of hormonal changes.
The symptoms of Premature Menopause can develop gradually and can be confused with other conditions such as anxiety, depression or thyroid disease. Following a surgical menopause, however, where the ovaries are removed, the symptoms may be very strong and commence very quickly.
TREATMENT OPTIONSAs with all conditions your Doctor should be consulted. If Premature Menopause is not managed properly, serious complications may develop such as osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.
Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is usually prescribed to counteract the loss of oestrogen and progesterone, along with supplementary testosterone. Professional counselling is also an important part of managing Premature Menopause. Your Doctor can refer you to the relevant Health Professionals for diagnosis and support.
PHARMACIST'S ADVICEAsk your Pharmacist for advice
1) Daily weight bearing exercise is recommended to help maintain fitness and bone density.
2) Supplemental calcium may be required to help maintain bone density. Ask your Pharmacist to recommend a suitable type.
3) Light, loose-fitting clothing made from a natural fibre such as cotton is less likely to aggravate sweating than tight, synthetic clothing.
4) Ask your Pharmacist to recommend a suitable lubricant or vaginal cream to help relieve the symptoms of vaginal dryness.